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Japan Says Financial Aid for Tunisia Hinges on IMF Deal


Asharq Al-Awsat


Japan will consider financial assistance to Tunisia once a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is reached, head of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Tanaka Akihiko has announced.
Tunisian Minister of Economy and Planning Samir Saied signed last week a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for several projects in many sectors, such as infrastructure, renewable energy, and others.
The projects will be presented to Japanese officials to obtain the necessary financial funds.
The Fund's approval is Japan's top condition to launch the projects.
The Japanese official added that the IMF deal would be the basis for discussions with financial institutions, including JICA.
"Once an agreement concluded, Tunisia will be required to introduce necessary economic reforms," he said.
Japan will be ready to provide financial assistance when reforms are undertaken.
The Fund required an "economic reform package" directed towards subsidizing essential consumer products, reforming the financial balances of central government institutions and the tax system, and reducing wages in the public sector.
Economist and financial expert Ezzeddine Saidane said that obtaining funds from major international financial institutions are coupled with the progress of Tunisia's negotiations with the IMF.
Saidane said Tunisia is awaiting the IMF's approval for the economic reforms program to be implemented between the two parties.
He stressed that organizing major economic forums and conferences is essential to explaining the advantages of investment in Tunisia, noting that establishing an appropriate investment environment is essential.
The expert stressed that the state is required to lead the investments, indicating that in 2010, it invested about 25 percent of the country's budget for development, which now dropped to no more than three percent.
Saidane believes that if the state is reluctant to invest, local and foreign private entities will not be incentivized to invest.
The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8), which was held last weekend in Tunis, resulted in presenting a set of economic projects, including 81 by the Tunisian private sector.
A set of agreements was also signed during the conference.
The Tunisian government submitted 47 projects to the Japanese financing institutions in several fields, including health, environment, higher education, infrastructure, water desalination, transportation, renewable energies, and green economy.
Japan provided Tunisia with financial aid of $100 million to mitigate the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

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